1. You Can’t Think of a Good Character Name
This is not as much of a problem as you think it is. The best case scenario is that this is a secondary character and not one of your main characters, but even if it is a main character, it’s not a huge problem.
If the character with no name is a secondary character, use a title or job description until you can get around to searching numerous name websites for a good name. The trick here is to use the same words every time. If this is a security guard, use “security guard” every single time. Then, when you actually pick a name, you can do a fast FIND/REPLACE ALL. If you had to use another word in front of it, like THE, you’ll find that in editing, or you that FIND “the name” and replace “name”.
It’s a little trickier when you can’t think of a good name for your main character. After all, this is the guy that does all the shit and experiences the most character development during the story. This guy or girl really needs a good name, and you can’t think of it. When this happens, pick a trait. Whatever the character’s dominant trait is or a word that describes the overall character personality (and preferably pick a word that you don’t use often). Most of my female characters are flawed, evil bitches, so if I can’t think of a good name, I might just use ‘Bitch’. The good news is that mentally, this is a great choice. I’m almost guaranteed that everything this character does is going to be bitchy because my head is going to be concentrating on what bitches do. Then, when I get done and a pick a name, I can replace the word Bitch with the actual name that I finally chose.
2. You Hate the Material
My background is freelancing. I can hate the material and still write it. This is not a problem for me. I don’t have to like it. I have to finish it, and I may crank through it faster because I do hate it. After all, the sooner I finish it, the sooner I can do something else. However, there’s a litmus test here. If you aren’t a freelancer, you may find it to be a real challenge to push through on something you hate. If you hate it and are less than 20 percent done with it, scrap it and do something else. If you are 50 percent or better on it, finish it quickly. I say this because most writers can crank through 10,000 to 20,000 words within 3 or 4 days. You haven’t wasted a lot of time here, and scrapping it doesn’t burn you that way. However, as you get deeper, time spent on the project becomes a real thing. To get to 40,000, words, you probably spent a month or more on this material. Finish it and read it. It’s probably not as awful as you think it is, and editing will clean it up enough to allow you to publish it.
3. You Have “Writer’s Block”
Is it “writer’s block” or “brain fry?” Writer’s block doesn’t exist, but brain fry sure as hell does. If you’ve written 5,000 words today and 10,000 words over the last seven days, you probably have brain fry. Take a break. You’re not going to write well if it takes you 20 minutes to construct a sentence. Go for a walk, watch TV, go to the gym. Do something mindless for a few hours then pick it back up.
And you didn’t like my answer on the writer’s block, did you? You’re absolutely convinced you have writer’s block. I guarantee you that you do not have writer’s block. Something else is going on, and you need to figure it out so that you can get back to writing. It could be as simple as you’ve let your desk get to a state that is not only unsanitary but absolutely distracting. Clean off that desk, and do it quickly. Get rid of that stack of plates in the corner and throw away that moldy food. Then, coat that SOB with Lysol, wipe it down then sit down and get back to work! You’re a writer!
I also understand that it may not be the desk. It may be something else, but you need to do a fast interpersonal inventory and clear it up. Once you find the problem and correct it (it’s rarely the writing that is the problem), the sooner you can get back to writing. In my life, my inability to write is never about the writing. It’s usually something else and usually environmental, like the kitchen is dirty. And I’m not talking there are crumbs on the counter. I’m talking – I’ve been slamming words for a week and last Tuesday’s meatloaf is now a science experiment.
4. You’re Stuck
Skip it. If you get stuck in a scene write an overview and move on. You already know what’s going to happen or what is supposed to happen. It’s going to take you 20 seconds to write (character X and character Y have a blowout argument. Character X wins) Now, move on! You can fill it out when you do your first edit.
5. You’ve Written Yourself into a Corner
This is usually due to a mistake early in the book. You had your characters turn left when they were screaming to turn right or you whitewashed an intense scene or you refused to write a scene and faded it to black and now you are getting character blowback. Your forward progress is done until you find that mistake. It’s best that you go back to the first page and read. Whatever mistake you made is going to be glaringly obvious once you read it, and once you fix it, that corner is going to disappear.
Overcoming these 5 common writer problems will help get you moving and keep you moving so that you can finish that novel and get it published.
Read More from Stacey Carroll
AVIA ii: Bullets and Betrayal Kindle Edition
Greg Locke is the detective who thinks he can put away both Avia and Benton in the next book in the series Avia II Bullets and Betrayal. These two are very close to going to jail or going on vacation to Hawaii when their heist goes bad. They are stuck in a life of crime, and they cannot seem to get out. Thriller author Stacey Carroll tugs you through all the twists and turns of these two and their lives while showing you that crime can pay in the worst ways.